Is "carbohydrate loading" important before competition?
According to nutrition specialists, a specific "carbohydrate-loading diet plan" shouldn't be needed if the competition is less than 90 minutes of continuous activity. A limiting factor for increasing muscle mass is calories, not protein. Therefore, athletes who are trying to increase muscle mass should meet their caloric needs first, by getting enough carbohydrate foods.
Eating high-carbohydrate, low-fat foods is a healthful way to get enough calories. Be-cause carbohydrates are di-gested quickly, half to two-thirds or more of meal or snack choices should be carbohydrates.
Food labels show carbohydrate content. High carbohydrate foods are those with starch or sugar. Fruit juices, milk and yogurt contain food sugars. Starchy foods are fresh fruits, rice, grains, pasta, breads, cereals and vegetables, including peas, corn, dried beans and potatoes.
How much protein should a teen-age athlete have?
Athletes require about the same amount of dietary protein as non-athletes or a little bit more. The usual diets of most athletes provide enough protein to cover the increased amounts that may be needed during the competitive season. High-protein foods include red meats; poultry; fish; cheeses; milk; tofu; eggs; dried peas and beans such as split peas, refried beans, chili beans, lentils and chick peas or garbanzo beans; and nuts and peanut butter. Many high-protein foods have a lot of fat. Low-fat protein foods are recommended.
A diet that is too high in protein can be harmful to health and athletic performance. Excess protein is either stored as fat or used for energy. Using protein for energy makes the kidneys work harder and increases risk for dehydration. Protein and fat are digested more slowly than carbohydrates.
Susan Krumm is an extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper. She can be reached at 843-7058.